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ON THE SPOT | BY CATHARINE HAMM

Calling all kin

July 15, 2007|Catharine Hamm

Question: I would like to plan a family reunion. There are 22 of us, and not everyone like cruises. Could you suggest a place where my grandchildren, 17 to 27 years, also would enjoy themselves?

SELMA RATNER BUKSTEIN

Laguna Woods

Answer: As anyone who has planned a reunion knows, getting family members to do any one thing at one time is a little like herding porcupines, no disrespect to the 'pines. Related or not, large groups of people just aren't going to agree on everything. Sometimes they don't agree on anything.

And that's why Bukstein should ask for help. "Don't try to do it all yourself," says George G. Morgan, author of "Your Family Reunion: How to Plan It, Organize It, and Enjoy It." Put the question of location to a vote -- as in, "Here are some of the choices that might work for us -- what is your preference?" Not only do people then think they have a say, but they also can't blame you if they don't like the outcome. Deniability is your best friend.

Second, if people are coming from the corners of the globe, the reunion coordinator needs a travel agent, and a travel agent needs the coordinator to be the point person. (If the group is big enough, it might also be wise to hire an events planner.) If you don't have an agent, go to www.astanet.org and use its agent finder feature.

That's how I found Linda Jones of Lauragen's Travel in Mission Viejo; she specializes in family reunions. Among her suggestions: Hilton Waikoloa Village or Kona Village Resort on the Big Island; Grand Wailea Resort on Maui; and JW Marriott Ihilani, Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki or ResortQuest Waikiki Beach on Oahu; dude and guest ranches, such as Aspen Lodge in Estes Park, Colo., or Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson; or renting a home in the mountains or on the coast of California, Oregon or Washington.

Finally, Morgan says, this isn't the time to resume sibling rivalries or revisit family feuds.

"The best advice I try to give people I work with when I've done professional planning: Fill this occasion with love and joy," Morgan says. "Because that's what family should be about."

For more tips on reunion planning, go to www.latimes.com/familyreunion.

Have a travel dilemma? Write to travel @latimes.com.

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